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European Defense: End of Alliance or New Partnership?

European Defense: End of Alliance or New Partnership?

Address at Harvard Center for European Studies by Richard Morningstar, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union on New U.S.-EU Partnership, October 13, 2000. Source: Washington File, U.S. Department of State. EUR109. October 23, 2000.

The new partnership that the United States is developing with the European Union will strengthen, not end, the NATO Alliance, according to U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Richard Morningstar.

Morningstar, speaking at the Harvard Center for European Studies October 13, said the attempt to adapt to the "more confused security environment" of the post-Cold War period by forging links between the EU and NATO is "not without some challenges in both organizations."

"The U.S. believes there should be mechanisms for regular consultation and practical cooperation at all levels, and on both political and military matters," he said. He also pointed to the challenge of including the six non-EU NATO Allies and Canada in security deliberations and force structures.

For the United States and the EU to become truly equal working partners will require changes on both sides, Morningstar said.

The United States will have to "get used to the idea that if we want the EU to do more, and to pay more, we will have to share the responsibility for crafting and implementing the overall strategy," he said, citing the crisis in Kosovo as an instance in which the United States had shown itself "capable of adapting to a more balanced transatlantic partnership."

"For the EU's part," he added, "they would have to act like an equal partner. This means not only developing credible military capabilities, but also developing the vision and political will to take on global responsibilities."

"For the EU to assume this effective global role," the U.S. ambassador said, "it will require the Member States of the EU to gradually devolve further sovereignty to centralized mechanisms in Brussels in the field of foreign policy."

Following is the text of Morningstar's remarks: (begin text)

European Defense: End of Alliance or New partnership?

I am told my staff came up with this catchy and non-controversial title, surely as a way to keep me out of trouble. Let me make it easy for you by providing the bottom line up front. The new partnership we are developing with the EU will strengthen, not end, the Alliance.

The key issue surrounding European security developments is how to deal with, and ideally manage, change. But to understand the current state-of-play, we need to look beyond the specific changes taking place in either the European Union or NATO. Since the fall of the Berlin wall, the security challenges we face have shifted from a bi-polar, superpower competition, with the potential for massive conventional military, or even nuclear, conflict to a much more confused security environment which includes a high number of different scenarios. None of the most likely scenarios directly threatens our survival, but they do require us to develop new tools to address an evolving set of global challenges; ethnic conflicts, refugee flows, humanitarian crises, international organized crime, transnational terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and missile technology, cyber-crime, among others.

Better known in Brussels as ESDP, the European Security and Defense Policy which the European Union has undertaken over the past year and a half, is seeking to develop tools that the European Union could employ to address some of these threats when the Alliance as a whole is not engaged. The Union is focused on the "Petersburg Tasks" which include non-combatant evacuation, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, peace keeping and peace enforcement operations.

Actions the EU has taken have already changed, and will continue to change, how we do business within NATO, and how NATO accomplishes its European security tasks. At the same time, if (and this is the most crucial of "ifs") ESDP can result in an increase in real European military capabilities, it will offer the United States and NATO a new partner which can help us address our common security challenges in the coming decades.

So, back to the title of this speech: while we can talk about the end of the Alliance as we know it, we are certainly not talking about the end of the Alliance. For the past ten years, NATO has already been undergoing an extraordinary process of change to adapt to new challenges -- new members, new missions, new partnerships with Russia, Ukraine. Now NATO is about to establish a new partnership with its closest relation in Brussels, the European Union. I believe we really have the potential for a new global partner in the EU on both foreign policy and security matters.

As you know, since the Kennedy Administration, the U.S. has been asking that Europeans carry a larger share of the burden for their own defense. ESDP has provided a political impetus for a stronger European pillar within the Alliance, and the development of a "separable but not separate" set of forces to perform low intensity conflict tasks. But developing these new tools is key. Lord Robertson, NATO Secretary General, summed it up nicely when he said the three top issues in determining the success of ESDP are capabilities, capabilities, capabilities.

He is right. It will not be difficult for the EU to meet their requirement for 60,000 troops, but the proof of the pudding will be in developing the required "enabling capabilities." These include strategic air and sea transport, long range secure command, control and communications networks, and logistics systems, all needed to quickly deploy forces over long distances, then command and sustain them for long periods of time. It also requires the development of some advanced combat capabilities such as precision guided munitions, electronic warfare and jamming capabilities, and unmanned surveillance vehicles, as well as improved protection for deployed forces from chemical or biological weapons. We expect to see national plans and budget proposals for these improvements, beginning in the middle of 2001.

As for progress to date, it has been focused on political and structural issues. We are generally pleased with EU progress announced at its two most recent summits in Helsinki and Feira. Links between the EU and NATO are being developed, but not without some challenges in both organizations. If we are to build seamless cooperation between the two, we need to construct a framework for cooperation. This will require interaction not only during actual crisis situations, but on a routine basis. The U.S. believes there should be mechanisms for regular consultation and practical cooperation at all levels, and on both political and military matters. We recognize that NATO and the EU are very different institutions and that we will need to respect the rules and the authority of each other. On the other hand, the challenges of today require that we put an end to the situation of having Europe's two most important institutions based in the same city, but living on different planets.

Another area of concern is to see how the EU will include the six non-EU NATO Allies and Canada in its security deliberations and force structures. In the U.S. view, the willingness of these non-EU NATO Allies to contribute to future EU military operations is a tremendous advantage to the EU. They have considerable capabilities and experience to bring to crisis management. These countries, and Turkey in particular, are concerned, however, that the EU will not include them adequately in the decision-shaping process leading up to a crisis. In June, the EU provided a basic template for consultations with non-EU Allies. We believe that it represents a solid foundation, but the EU now needs to put flesh on the bones.

Now I would like to place ESDP in a broader context than just its relationship to NATO, and to the U.S. through NATO. We have long supported European integration. The development of an effective EU Common Foreign and Security Policy, of which ESDP is one component, will result in a more coherent, predictable, and effective European response to challenges and crises, around the globe. The EU's objective for tomorrow is to become an effective global player in the foreign and security policy arenas, just as it is in trade and commercial matters today.

This offers the U.S. an opportunity for a global partner, one which shares our bedrock values: peace, stability, democracy, market economies, human rights. The benefits of such a partnership can be seen today in the Balkans. During the crisis in Serbia over the past couple of weeks, our consultations with the EU on how to proceed were intense from the political level down through the working level. We cannot take credit for what the Serbian people achieved, but we sent consistent and coordinated messages to the Serbian opposition, to Moscow, and to Milosevic about how determined we were to see the democratic election results respected. Such close cooperation pays big dividends in time of crisis. Elsewhere in the Balkans, we are cooperating across a wide spectrum of security, peacekeeping, conflict prevention, and reconstruction tasks. In Kosovo, the U.S. carried the bulk of the load during the air war. Now Europeans contribute about 80% of the ground forces, a European general is in command, and the EU is providing the lion's share of the resources for reconstruction. If ESDP succeeds, this is the kind of burdensharing that can and should become the norm in dealing with crises in the Europeans' backyard.

A key future challenge for the EU, as it is for the U.S. today, will be the requirement to orchestrate all elements of power in the management of a crisis. The EU has formidable engagement and crisis response resources: diplomacy, humanitarian aid, developmental assistance, and trade. It is developing military means and deployable civil police structures. It must develop ways to apply them more responsively, coherently, and with greater efficiency.

If the requisite military capabilities are fielded, and the above efficiencies achieved, the EU could serve as an excellent partner, not only for crises within Europe and its periphery, but also beyond.

There are many hot spots in the world today, where it would be in the U.S. interest to have a capable force take action, but where our interests are not great enough for us to put troops on the ground, or lead the intervention. East Timor and Sierra Leone are but two current examples. A fully capable EU, with skills across all facets of crisis prevention and response, would be a welcome addition to the globe's crisis management toolbox.

Some Europeans criticize the U.S. for acting too much like the world's policeman, taking unilateral action in places where we shouldn't be involved. Some Americans, including in Congress, would agree. The fact is that we cannot be involved everywhere. If ESDP succeeds, however, it will help us determine when and where we should be involved. In consultation with our Allies, we will be able to come to an agreement on what actions, if any, should be taken to deal with a particular crisis. And together we can decide which institution or countries, or some combination of the two would be the most appropriate actor to undertake the various actions required to resolve a crisis.

But having the U.S. and the EU working as partners will require adjustments from both of us. The U.S. loves to have coalition partners, but has always preferred to be the first among equals. We will have to get used to the idea that if we want the EU to do more, and to pay more, we will have to share the responsibility for crafting and implementing the overall strategy. Kosovo, with a European military commander and with Europeans heading the UN and OSCE missions, shows the U.S. is capable of adapting to a more balanced transatlantic partnership.

For the EU's part, they would have to act like an equal partner. This means not only developing credible military capabilities, but also developing the vision and political will to take on global responsibilities. The EU could not sit out the tough challenges, and would have to take tasks it would rather avoid. There is another interesting twist to all of this. For the EU to assume this effective global role, it will require the Member States of the EU to gradually devolve further sovereignty to centralized mechanisms in Brussels in the field of foreign policy. Eventually, this could mean a diminished individual profile for even the larger members. I wonder how ready London, Paris and Berlin are for such a transition?

These are exciting times, full of change. But with change comes opportunity. Our goal must be to see those opportunities and shape them to our liking. I look forward to any questions you may have, and the presentations of our distinguished panel members.

(end text)


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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).